Turn 8 News
News of the 361st Day of the 40th Year of the Reign of Her Magnificent Highness, Adara the Glorious
Grand Vizier Retiring
The Grand Vizier, having answered the Calipha's questions regarding the 'legitimacy' of the False Tariq, has satisfied her with his answer that what was slain at the wedding of Emira Shikasha was the body of a horrible demon uttering lies and slander of the viles order.
Nonetheless, he has announced that age and infirmity require him to step down from his present position--there is speculation as to whether he will ask the Calipha to accept his protege, Abdul al Hadar...
Shadows Converge In Dark Places...
Around the cities there are many whisperings of skullduggery and treachery. Hadar warriors and Zaniah merchants are prodded by the Calipha's guard, and told that they have been 'invited' to a 'Peace Conference.' Some blame this on Majeed al Zaniah, Liberator (or Scourge) of Marinia; and others say that with the Grand Vizier out of the way, Abdul al Hadar is using his influence. Whatever, any of the high and mighty Zaniah or powerful Hadar whisked off to this 'Conference' are expected never to be seen again.....
...And Then Deepen
Dark rumours within the Ruchbah--many of Takiyah's old compatriots are 'visiting their countryside estates', 'have fallen victim to a strange and malignant humour', or 'are taking their rest.' Indeed, illness seems to be the order of the day among certain lines of Ruchbah lineage. That, and in at least one case an odd penchant for violence: while no one in the Ruchbah will openly admit it, there are tales told that at least one husband, upset at the disgrace of his wife and the Emira's hand in it, attacked her with a knife, hoping to cut out her heart in revenge. His whereabouts are unknown--but none really wish to see what has become of him...
Is Omar impotent? Or is he in love with another?
Market gossip, among two men in the Bazaar:
'Hey didya hear the news about that bloke Omar? He marries the Emira of the Ruchbah, then they get to bed and...well lets just say he didn't exactly do what he was meant to! You wouldn't expect a man of his youth to have that problem. I mean, it's not like she's bad lookin' or nuthin.'
'Nah, I hear its cos he loves this other bird like. 's a true love, 's what I bet it is!'
'Hah. For my money, he's just got the jitters. She may not be bad lookin', but some things don't function when you got a snake wrapped round your neck, ya get my drift. Either way, the Emira ain't gonna be too pleased...'
'Yah! She's in a right mess, she is. I'd hate to be in his shoes--woman like that always takes such 'faults' out on her mate...'
'The council of the Invisible College hereby proclaim that the Sorceress Nabeeha has be judged innocent of all crimes, and is in all ways a godly and respected member of the fellowship of our ancient and honourable oath.
Further, the council of the college wishes that it be known that for her work in releasing the doors of the college, the Sorceress Nabeeha is offered a place upon the council whenever she shall be minded to claim it.
Daring Piracy and Kidnap! Jabbar returns!
In the harbor can be seen two customs ships, one of which has rammed the other.
'What happen there?'
'It was Jabbar the Pirate! He's not dead after all!'
[There are many rollings of eyes nearby, but these two traders are not the sharpest carpet-traders in the bazaar...]
'That's right, he just stole a ship and fled the city, and when the customs people tried to get him they had a little accident.'
'That's not all, the ship belonged to the Jerezad, and it was full of some of Yamha Bookwala's merchandice!'
'What was it doing here?'
'It was offloading some good to a Fesk trader here, when suddenly all the porters pulled out hidden swords and leapt aboard.'
'But how do you know it was Jabbar!'
'I saw him myself, waving that hat of his as he bundled that Fesk woman, al'Smarty or something, on board. I bet they'll be getting a ransom note for her!'
The Order of Khal'Nayak: Warriors of Shaliq
'They are so wonderful, killing demons, and driving away those nasty rats.'
'Ooo yes, and always willing to listen, and to go and talk to anyone suspicious.'
'My grandson, he's going to join them!'
'Oooo yes, he'll get their nice uniform too!'
Peace treaty: Zaniah forgive debt, in turn for Marinia
Official pronouncement by criers of the houses of Zaniah and Hadar:
'Hear ye, hear ye! Let all hereby know that hostilities between the houses of Zaniah and Hadar have ceased. Let it also be known that the house of Hadar has recognised the Zaniah claim to Marinia, and that the House Zaniah has generously written off the debt owed it by the House Hadar. Glory be to Shaliq!'
[Amazing as it may seem, no attendees to the Peace Conference seem to have mysteriously disappeared, and everyone seems grudgingly happy with the outcome. After so much bloodshed, no one can quite figure out how it happened, but Ahmed al Smarmy, among others, has been hawking bottles of the wine allegedly served at the occasion....]
Foreign Trader Torn Apart by Rats
A quiet street near the Freemans Bazaar. A man in long green robes comes running down the street:
'Help, help, help, Arggh!'
He collapses to his knees, as rats come boiling out of the sewers and latch on to him:
'Aaargh! Ali, you have betrayed me! Why have you turned your demons on me?''
The rats roil over him completely, and the heap twitches a bit, then disperses in all directions, leaving nothing behind save some torn scraps of cloth.
'Who was that poor man?'
'I heard it was Ishiguru, the Jade Empire slaver.'
'Wasn't he the one who captured Prince Tariq's murderer?'
'Yes, that was him.'
'Pssst, wanna know a secret? That was Prince Tariq who got killed at the wedding, he was under a geas to speak lies! Yeah, I know everyone's guessed it already, but do you know how that damned godless foreigner *spit* Ishiguro got him? Apparently he duped that Sousserah the Uninterruptible - yeah, the one that Islander keeps hanging around - and Al Smarmy to lead Tariq into a trap. He must have been meaning to pin the blame on them if things went wrong! Dirty Jade Empire snake, they 'ave men on the throne and make their walls out of paper over there y'know.'
'Yeah, an' you know what else? Someone saw that Ishiguro bloke's shadow turn into the shadow of a big rat! Bloody foreigners, they come over 'ere, they kill our princes, they summon dark and blasphemous demons... Hope I'm not in his shoes when the Calipha gets to the bottom of this, and she will, mark my words...'
'Well, I just hope someone's still looking for that Beggar King bloke, I hate feeling as if I'm gonna get sacrificed to demons in my sleep by some filthy demon-worshipping street scum... and he's still out there, you know... lurking...'
Obsidian General Smashes Map
'Aw, daddy, why can't we go and see the map again! I promise I won't squish another beetle! And I love the pretty flowers they have in the park there. Oh please, daddy, why can't we go?'
'We've already discussed this, dear. You can't go and see the map or the pretty flowers because some nasty person broke into the park, smashed up the map, and tore all the flowers up. The park's very messy right now, and not a safe place for little girls. That's why we can't go... Aw, don't cry... I know, how would you like to go see uncle Saphar, eh? I'm sure he'll let you ride on his ponies again!'
Sea Dragon Now Human, Loved First Kiss
'Who's that man? The one with the pretty girl on his arm?'
'That's no man, or at least, he is now, but he wasn't a while ago... I think.'
'Well, apparently he's that sea-dragon what fought to protect Muna from the evil Bone Dragon that was attacking it, and got his shell cracked. Apparently some physician or another's found some magical elixir to actually transform him into a man! And so now he's free to go off and marry that girl - I've heard tell they're a very sweet couple.'
'Sounds a little too on the strange side for me... besides, that's not legal is it? A dragon marrying a girl?'
'According to my uncle, who lives in the Jerezad quarters, this potion's actually turned him into a human man - it isn't temporary or any kind of illusion, he is a man, now and forevermore.'
'Still sounds dodgy to me...'
I thought the Hadar and Ruchbah are best friends now? Alliance for the good of Shalazar, good for the Great Houses, blah, blah...
Supposed to be, aren't they? But I've heard it's all rosy on the surface 'cos neither of them wants to back down and say they've made a mistake, but behind the scenes the Hadar are not at all happy. Don't know why - p'raps they found out some home truths about the Ruchbah. Well, I ask you, Old Man Priamp, on the street corner, who's blind and deaf in one ear, could 'ave told you that about the Ruchbah. Fruitful House indeed, bloody need to be, amount of blood spilt behind closed doors...
Bookwala's Book is Unfinished
There have been many mutterings from the Houses of the Jerezad that Bookwala's great work of history and legend is taking a mighty long time to finish. The talk of (certain limited) social circles, it is a bit of an embarassment for the family that it has not quite managed to get finished by now...
Al-Ouph publishes Great Book of the Universe
...but elsewhere, the literary world of Shalazar has been stunned by Al-Ouph al Ash-Kenz's weighty tome, The Geography of the Known Universe (Lower Hemisphere). A cracking read, it is filled with details of the Moon Spiders, the Kingdom of Cats, the Bucket Djinn of Rain and Thunder, and journeys in a mighty balloon....